3-D World Runner (NES) Game Review


Video Review/Episode

Text Review

The Short


– 3D Platformer on the NES

– Created by Square (as in, the Final Fantasy guys)

– Music by Nobuo Uematsu (aka, the Final Fantasy composer)

– Eight worlds, but to quote my friend Davy “Nobody makes it past level 3!”

– Easy to play, extremely difficult to master

– If you press select and have red/green 3D glasses, you can play in REAL 3D!

– Can pick it up for about $2-3


– Gets really difficult really fast

– Some cheap deaths

– Shooting enemies kind of sucks and takes away from the platforming

– Only has two songs for the whole game

– Is really just a ripoff of Space Harrier with a platforming emphasis

Milking the power of the NES

The Long

3-D World Runner (yes, the dash is part of the title) is one of my favorite NES games. Back in my freshman year of college, my neighbor Davy had an NES hooked up to a really old TV, and a whole suitcase of NES games. After playing through a handful of them I finally got stuck on 3-D World Runner, a simple 3D platformer that was really easy to pick up and play (unlike most NES games). After several months of trial and error (and roommates/hallmates cheering me on) I finally got past the hell that was Level 3, and made it all the way to Level 6 before finally being unable to go any further. It was quite the accomplishment.

3-D World Runner is an extremely simple game that still manages to have the same addicting, “one more go” pull of great platformers like Super Meat Boy. Essentially, you hold forward to run, press A to jump, and the longer you hold A the longer you stay in the air. That’s where the trick to 3-D World Runner come in: it gives you massive pits you have to traverse, and you have to figure out the exact timing of your jumps. It has liberal checkpoints (at least in the first couple of levels), lets you do the whole “hold A when pressing Start when you continue to pick up on the world you died on” (ala Super Mario Bros.), and is really just a blast to play.

Play…IN 3D! Roger Ebert, eat your heart out.

It’s lack of direction, however, can screw you up the first couple of plays. You are always going forward (the rate just increases as you hold forward…be prepared to hold forward the entire time you play) and the way to get items is to ram your face into poles and hope a present comes out. It’s also worth noting that, unlike Mario, Mushrooms in this game instantly kill you. The crap you want is the rocket (gives you the option to shoot with the B button), the potion (gives you one more hit from enemies), the heart (extra life), and the little atom symbol (gives you the most useless invulnerability in any video game: it only lasts like 5 seconds, not long enough to recover your momentum from ramming the pole).

There is also a trick in World 2 where, if you are patient, you can essentially get unlimited lives. In one area you can pick up two extra lives by going to secret warp zones. Then you just die, start at the checkpoint (one life richer) and repeat. If you really hate yourself, you could do this for hours until you had 99 lives, but I can’t recommend it.

The bosses really look like Space Harrier

At the end of the level you fly into the air and have to shoot some big beastie (or multiple big beasties). These fights are quite easy, even when the bosses are “invisible” (you can still figure out where they are because of their shadows), the only problem happens when there are like six of them and you are on a timer.

It would be fair to say I’m biased against this game because I really caught on to it during my freshman year of High School. In all honesty, most people probably won’t get past Level 3 (Even though levels 4 and 5 are a lot easier), and the general repetition of the game will probably turn a lot of people off. It does introduce things like springboards that are required to traverse the longer pits (they are the reason Level 3 is rough), and the game was good enough to merit a Japan-only sequel, but considering Square released this the same year as the first Final Fantasy, I think it’s safe to say which series took off.

The full title is apparently “The 3-D Battles of World Runner.” Even though there aren’t many battles.

So…should you buy it? Well, I found it at my overpriced retro gaming store for $3, and they always seem to have extra copies. It is personally one of my most favorite NES games (and the first one I got when I got the system last year), and while it isn’t exactly a well-known classic, it will provide at least a few hours of fun.

Plus…IT’S IN 3D! What more do you want?

If I were to give it a star rating, it would be Four out of Five

As a bonus, here is the main song in the game (the only other one plays during bosses…and I guess there is an ending song). I learned how to play it on the piano, and proceeded to bug the crap out of all my roommates for years to come.

Author: Nathan Major

Spirit Shark: Hammerhead. Retro game collector, true ginger, and SNES fanatic. Goal in life is to become Karnov from the NES game Karnov.

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